Renew Your Vows #4: MJ plays feminism card so Peter will endanger child

Gerry Conway’s fourth issue of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows came out this week, which means that Peter Parker fans are treated once again to a light-hearted and fun read devoid of Slottian baggage. The writer’s “All In The Family” tale wraps up with the Parkers defeating Mole Man, but it doesn’t come without a few creative red flags for the future.

Ask yourself this question: Is it sexist for Peter Parker to want his young daughter as far away from megalomanic super-villains as possible? This version of Mary Jane thinks so, and for some bizarre reason the hero backs down without much of a fight.

Check out my latest YouTube review for a better explanation of why RYV appears to be taking a problematic stance towards the family’s superhero dynamic. As always, let me know what you think in the comments section below — and be sure to subscribe if you enjoy the video format.

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Renew Your Vows #3: Annie May Parker shines in spotlight

Gerry Conway and Ryan Stegman continue to roll with Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #3. If you’re looking for a Spider-Man book worth picking up, then this is the one. It’s not perfect, but the energy and enthusiasm the creative team brings to the book more than makes up for any editorial hiccups.

Check out my latest YouTube video below and let me know what you think of the issue, particularly my one minor gripe on the company’s continued habit of inserting political correctness across the line.

Renew Your Vows #2 Review: Conway delivers, but red flags appear for Peter Parker fans

The second issue of Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows is out, and once again Gerry Conway and Ryan Stegman offer fans a strong product. There are, however, some red flags for Peter Parker fans.

Check out my latest YouTube review and let me know in the comments section below what you think of “Spinneret,” the Parker family’s parenting style, and Normie “Richie Rich” Osborn. Feel free to ask any other Renew Your Vows questions that might be on your mind.

Renew Your Vows #1: Conway, Stegman give fans the Peter Parker they have deserved for years

It’s here — The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows. There is much to say on this issue (and I may do up a full re-write in the near future), but my latest YouTube review should suffice for now. Check it out and let me know what you think of Gerry Conway’s and Ryan Stegman’s work in the comments section below.

Finally — finally — the throngs of fans who hated One More Day get the Peter Parker they deserve. Huzzah!

Zendaya plays race card while looking as white as Joseph Gordon-Levitt; better luck next time, ‘Homecoming’ diva

zendaya

It was only a few weeks ago that your friendly neighborhood blogger said he was looking forward to Zendaya’s performance in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but now the actor had to complicate matters by playing one of the worst race cards of all time.

CNN reported Thursday:

Zendaya has alleged a grocery clerk of racism after refusing to sell her $400 in gift cards.

The “K.C. Undercover” actress posted a Snapchat video Tuesday about a shopping experience in which she said a clerk told her she couldn’t afford the gift cards, and tossed her wallet.

“The lady that was helping, I don’t think she was a huge fan of our skin tone,” Zendaya said.

“This is what we deal with…” — before a male friend in the video added, “Because we’re black.”

A store manager came over and eventually helped Zendaya, 20, complete the gift card purchase.

The store eventually clarified (for those who have lived under a rock for several years) that there are limits to how many gift cards can be purchased on a single credit card. The wealthy entertainer — who should know by now that criminals who steal credit card information prompted such rules — was initially denied a $400 purchase.

So here is the situation: A Hollywood star who looks as white as Joseph Gordon Levitt walks into a Vons grocery store. She looks like some random teenager, plops down a credit card, wants to charge $400 on gift cards, and then gets upset when the store clerk looks at her like she’s crazy.

Is it more likely that the clerk — who must deal with black people in California every single day  — is racist, or is it more likely that a spoiled Hollywood star wasn’t recognized and then treated (ironically) just like everyone else?

I will go with the latter option, but I’m open to convincing in the comments section below.

jg-levitt

Note to Zendaya: People are sick and tired of the race card. It doesn’t work.

Sometimes, what you perceive as racism is just people behaving rationally to your immaturity or moronic behavior.

Sometimes, what you perceive as racism is just someone having a bad day.

Sometimes, what you perceive as racism is nothing of the sort because the person on the other end of the conversation thinks you look like a small white child.

Note to Sony and Marvel Studios: Tell your future “MJ” that it may be okay to be a diva on the big screen, but that doing so in public just makes Spider-Man fans less inclined to see her work.

Related: Dan Slott plays ‘Captain White Privilege’ after Zendaya-MJ casting reported

Spider-Man movies called ‘white-boy fantasy’: The Root writer says Zendaya casting not ‘progress’

Jason Johnson

The Root bills itself as an “opinion and culture site for African-American influencers,” which works out nicely because I was recently looking to see what such self-proclaimed individuals were saying about Zendaya’s role as MJ in Spider-Man: Homecoming. It turns out that Spider-Man is a “white-boy fantasy” and nothing you ever do is good enough for “influencers” like Jason Johnson.

Mr. Johnson wrote on Aug. 23 for The Root’s “No, Zendaya in Spider-Man: Homecoming Is Not the Progress We’re Looking For”:

Consequently, the announcement that she’s been cast as Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s long-term love interest, Mary Jane, in Spider-Man: Homecoming next year has given many people all sorts of excitement and feels. I am not one of them. Casting Zendaya as Mary Jane is another example of Hollywood expecting black dollars at the box office, but disrespecting black consumers and fans on the big screen. …

Zendaya’s casting is yet another sign that makers of Hollywood sci-fi fantasy action films will “racebend” a character (change a character’s race from what it was in a book, film or cartoon), slap themselves on the back for being progressive and expect black fans to be satisfied, while pretty much maintaining the status quo. Racebending is fine so long as it’s for girlfriends and sidekicks, but the movies are still white-boy fantasy adventures in which the lead remains a straight white male no matter what. And that unfortunate fact can’t be separated from the choice to cast Zendaya as Mary Jane.

There was never a doubt or even a conversation about casting anyone other than a white man as Iron Man, Thor, Captain America or the Incredible Hulk. Even though Iron Man was black in the early 1980s, the first Captain America was a black man, and Thor as a Norse God could be anybody.

Are you a young comic book fan who is on the ideological fence? If so, then consider the psychology on display with Zendaya’s casting:

  • If you think movie producers should try to adhere as closely as possible to the source material, then liberal guys like Dan Slott will imply that you are a racist.
  • If you think movie producers should try to adhere as closely as possible to the source material, then liberal guys like director James Gunn will say that you have “too good of a life.”
  • If you think movie producers should try to adhere as closely as possible to the source material, then liberal guys like Devin Faraci of the website Birth. Movies. Death. will call you a “racist fanboy.”
  • Conservative guys like me will shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah, but Zendaya may still be pretty good. As long as she tints her hair red then we should just give the girl a chance.”
  • Meanwhile, liberals like Jason Johnson will mock you for your “white-boy fantasy” even if you do give Zendaya’s casting three cheers for diversity. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Welcome to a life of Kobayashi Maru-type scenarios if you board the USS Social Justice.

As your friendly neighborhood blogger has said on numerous occasions, social-justice obsessives are never satisfied. Any attempt to placate them will only result in additional admonitions that require an apology, new demands to meet without question, and more rules that undoubtedly conflict with a sub-group of professional victims someplace else.

Between now and the July release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, I implore anyone who is still trying to define their ideological identity to conduct a test: Come to this blog and disagree with me just to see how I react. Then, do the same with liberal writers like Dan Slott or Nick Spencer. By the time your favorite wall-crawler returns to theaters, I am confident that you will no longer be on the fence.

James Gunn stands on moral pedestal, lectures world on Zendaya-MJ story; fans praise giant red herrings

Guardians of Galaxy director James Gunn needs to be called out for his astonishing level of chutzpah. A man who has dedicated his life to make believe — the man who has spent countless days and weeks and months of his life focused on comic book characters — decided it would be a good idea to belittle fans who dared to disagree with him on Spider-Man: Homecoming casting.

“If you’re complaining about the ethnicity of Mary Jane your life is too good,” wrote Mr. Gunn on Thursday, shortly after reports that Zendaya landed the role.

Translation: Just shut up and accept what we do or you will be mocked, ridiculed, and labeled a racist. 

James Gunn MJ tweet

Mr. Gunn could not just be content to have 2,100 share his smug tweet (with another 3,500 “liking” it). No, instead he had to climb atop a giant moral pedestal and lecture the world via Facebook on a controversy he helped create by stirring the pot.

His fans, of course, took the red herrings he dished out and lavished him with praise. Since they are so blinded by partisan politics or celebrity worship to identify a logical fallacy when it slaps them in the face(book), yours truly will dissect elements of his self-righteous rant.

“I do not believe a character is the color of his or her skin. When Michael B Jordan was cast as Johnny Storm I didn’t understand the uproar. The primary characteristic of Johnny was not, to me, that he was white, or that he had blonde hair, but that he was a fiery, funny, big-mouthed braggart of a hero. I was happy that he was going to be played by one of the finest and most charming young actors out there.”

Here we have Mr. Gunn, just like Marvel writer Dan Slott, responding to an argument that does not exist. Who is arguing that a character “is” the color of his or her skin? No one.

People who loves Peanuts went to the movie theater recently to see Charlie Brown and his beagle — not Charlie Brown and his miniature dachshund.

Moviegoers who love James Rhodes went to see Captain America: Civil War, and rightfully expected to see a black man — in this case, Don Cheadle — on the big screen as War Machine.

No one is arguing that race is the primary element that defines a person, but it is not wrong for comic book fans to expect a faithful transition of their favorite characters from platform to platform.

To lavish Mr. Gunn for addressing an argument that no one is making is absurd.

“Yesterday, a rumor broke out that the character of Mary Jane was being played by a young black woman, Zendaya, and all hell broke out on the Internet (again).”

That is because guys like you and Dan Slott look at what the dregs of the internet are saying and then insinuate that anyone who disagrees with you a.) has “too good of a life,” or b.) is a racist moron.

James Gunn kicks a hornet’s nest and then wonders why he gets stung.

For the thoughtful majority of you out there:

For me, if a character’s primary attribute – the thing that makes them iconic – is the color of their skin, or their hair color, frankly, that character is shallow and sucks. For me, what makes MJ MJ is her alpha female playfulness, and if the actress captures that, then she’ll work. And, for the record, I think Zendaya even matches what I think of as MJ’s primary physical characteristics – she’s a tall, thin model – much more so than actresses have in the past.

Again, note what Mr. Gunn does here: He responds to an absurd idea that no one is making, as if that’s what the real debate boils down to, and then says you are “thoughtful” if you agree with his rant. Ironically, fans who are not very thoughtful fail to see what he is doing while still getting excited that they agree with him.

Yes, James, it is correct that a character who is solely defined by skin color is lame. That would be a stellar point to make if the issue at hand centered around that claim. But hey, at least you get to relax in the verbal sponge baths that your Facebook and Twitter fans give you. I guess that counts for something…

“Whatever the case, if we’re going to continue to make movies based on the almost all white heroes and supporting characters from the comics of the last century, we’re going to have to get used to them being more reflective of our diverse present world. Perhaps we can be open to the idea that, although someone may not initially match how we personally conceive a character, we can be – and often are – happily surprised.”

Bravo, James! Well said. Do you know what would also make guys like me “happily surprised”?

Answer: If you and your friends did not say that fans’ “lives are too good” or that they are racist when they disagree with you.

Related:

Zendaya as Mary Jane? Ask about red hair for the next year and you’ll be called a ‘racist’

Dan Slott plays ‘Captain White Privilege’ after Zendaya-MJ casting reported

Zendaya as Mary Jane? Ask about red hair for the next year and you’ll be called a ‘racist’

Zendaya

And so it begins — the great new excuse to call people “racist” for the next year.

News broke on Thursday afternoon that Zendaya will be playing the iconic role of Mary Jane in next summer’s latest Spider-Man movie, Homecoming.

The Wrap reported:

Zendaya will be playing long-time Spider-Man love interest Mary Jane Watson in next summer’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” two individuals with knowledge of the project told TheWrap.

Diehard Spidey fans have long speculated about whom the 19-year-old Disney Channel star would portray in Sony’s high-profile reboot of the superhero franchise, starring British actor Tom Holland as a teenage Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man.

Also Read: All 43 Marvel Movies Ranked From Worst to Best, Including ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ (Photos)

At least one recent draft of the script has Zendaya’s character dropping several clues to her identity as Mary Jane, one of the most familiar love interests in the Marvel superhero’s universe — and played by Kirsten Dunst in Sam Raimi‘s 2002-07 movie trilogy starring Tobey Maguire as the webslinger.

Zendaya, the star of the Disney Channel series “Shake It Up!” and “K.C. Undercover,” was cast back in March to play a “key role” as a character named Michelle.

Your friendly neighborhood blogger has plenty of thoughts on Sony’s movie, but what concerns me most is the knee-jerk reaction by race-obsessed goons to label anyone who wants to see a beautiful redhead on the big screen as “raaaaaaacist.”

Peter MJ

One of the first race-runners out of the gate was Devin Faraci of the website Birth. Movies. Death. He worries about the “next racist fanboy outrage,” (because honoring source material is apparently ‘racist’ nowadays).

Devin Farac

The comments section of websites like The Wrap (You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy) was just as bad.

Wrap comments Homecoming MJ

Ah, yes, all those “racist white nerds” who like their Blades and Rhodeys black and their Mary Janes white with red hair…they’re so weirdly racist!

The good thing about Sony’s habitual screw-ups when it comes to…pretty much everything…is that at this point fans only want to see a good movie. My prediction is that Zendaya — who is certainly beautiful  — will do just fine.

It’s hard to do a worse job than Kirsten Dunst, so as long as Zendaya captures the essence of MJ’s character then most long-time fans will forgive the studio’s deviation from the comics.

It is much harder to turn the other cheek, however, with writers who salivate at the chance to spit out charges of racism over the slightest disagreement.

What do you think of Zendaya’s casting? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you think it was strange of Sony to keep it a secret for so long if the casting is not supposed to be a big deal? Let me know in the comments section below.

Update: Dan Slott decided to weigh in on the issue, and he was in rare form with his Straw Man arguments and specious claims. I cover it in the comments section, but decided to take a screenshot of the embedded tweets since he has a habit of deleting them when things get out of hand.

Dan Slott Homecoming Zendaya

Amazing Spider-Man #15: Dan Slott’s Regent took down a god, then falls to … Mary Jane

Mary Jane Iron Spider

It is a good bet that when Marvel writer Dan Slott was a kid that he was the one who always changed the rules of whatever game he was playing with friends. The Amazing Spider-Man #15 is a perfect example of a story crumbling into a schizophrenic mess because the writer altered established realities to get to a desired end.

Readers last left their beloved web-slinger knowing that he and Iron Man were defeated at the hands of Regent. The same villain who defeated a god — She-Thor — Vision, Wolverine, Captain America, Daredevil, Deadpool, Human Torch and countless other superheroes (and villains), also took down Peter Parker and Tony Stark.

Regent has been established as a force to be reckoned with, right? Keep that in mind as we move forward with this review.

Here is what you need to know for ASM #15:

  • The Avengers are defeated. Heroes everywhere are missing. Regent is on the brink of victory.
  • Mary Jane decides to suit up in Peter’s old “Iron Spider” costume because … she once wore an old Iron Man suit and temporarily had spider-powers. Her plan is to take on Regent by herself.
  • Harry Osborn Lyman, captured and contained in one of Regent’s holding tanks, uses new Webware technology that he “just had Clayton [install]” (how convenient) to escape. Sound waves from Harry’s glorified iWatch shatter glass that can hold She-Thor.
  • Peter, encased in a bubble, distracts Regent so Iron Spider-MJ can sucker punch him. The distraction bursts his psychic bubbles and the previously defeated and fatigued Spider-Man springs into action. The three have a déjà vu moment.
  • Spider-Man leaves to save Harry while M.J. and Iron Man continue to fight.
  • Miles Morales is freed and his instant-win venom blast takes out Dr. Stillwell.

Miles Morales ASM 15

  • An army of superheroes are released and Regent acknowledges defeat. He is then confined within his own prison.
  • MJ, Tony, and Jarvis have a private party with champagne (Tony, understandably, does not drink).
  • Peter, the billionaire CEO of Parker Industries, throws a party for his friends … at a coffee shop. Bobbi Morse is introduced to Aunt May and Jay Jameson collapses after coughing up blood.

ASM #15 fails because Dan Slott sets precedents and then disregards them when it suits his needs. He pens stories for an older-skewing audience, but then expects the average reader to accept deviations from established rules like a child.

Regent SheThor

To add insult to injury, fans of the marriage between Peter and Mary Jane are punched in the gut at least twice.

  1. Spider-Man tells Tony: “[Peter] only realized he’d lost MJ after she moved on. You better not make the same mistake.”
  2. Peter essentially introduces Mockingbird to Aunt May as his new girlfriend (Whatever happened to the girlfriend who tried to murder him?)

The fact of the matter is not that Mary Jane “moved on” — it’s that Marvel’s editors and Dan Slott are telling readers to move on.

The message is clear: “Stop spitting up Tom Brevoort’s medicine. Take it. The beatings will continue until morale improves!”

If you want to see some stunning cover art by Alex Ross, then make sure to buy ASM #15.

If you don’t require a writer to stick to his own set of rules as long as characters are punching each other and “zany” hijinks ensue, then buy ASM #15.

If, however, you expect writers to offer creative cohesion and linear logic, which can easily be traced to acceptable premises, then you might want to read Charles Soule’s Daredevil instead.

Amazing Spider-Man #12: Slott’s Peter Parker impotent, Alpha Stark cradles MJ

SpiderMan IronMan

The introduction to the 12th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man informs readers that Peter Parker has returned to New York City to “breathe a sigh of relief” after his recent showdown with the Zodiac terrorist organization. Indeed, writer Dan Slott then goes on to provide a palate-cleanser in the form of an old-school team-up between Spider-Man and Iron Man. It’s generally a fun tale that includes the return of Mary Jane, plenty of action and humor, and set-ups for Marvel’s Civil War II and the return of Regent. Mr. Slott’s fundamental misunderstanding of who Peter Parker is, however, needlessly produces a character who is socially impotent and politically aligned with his adversary.

The story goes as follows:

  • Parker Industries is hosting a black tie event to raise money for the Uncle Ben Foundation.
  • Tony Stark and his personal assistant, Mary Jane, are in attendance.
  • Augustus Roman (aka, Regent) of Empire Unlimited shows up.
  • Corporate saboteur “Ghost” crashes the party.
  • Spider-Man and Iron Man team up to save the day.
  • Roman’s facility for super-powered criminals, The Cellar, is introduced.

If you are the type of reader who mindlessly consumes comic books like I devour chocolate-covered raisins before a big-budget movie, then stop reading now and buy ASM #12.

If you are the type of reader who wonders why Peter Parker so often does not seem right under Mr. Slott’s direction, then read on. You may want to save that $4.00 for another book — perhaps the next issue of Charles Soule’s Daredevil.

ASM #12 demonstrates from the very first panel that Dan Slott does not know how to strip his own politics from the book to provide a superior (no pun intended) product.

If you, dear reader, were to become the CEO of a major company, then you would have no problem buying a nice tuxedo for black tie events. If attending charity fundraisers was a recurring obligation you had as CEO of “Successful Business Dude Inc.,” then taking time out of your schedule to rent and return cheap suits would be bizarre.

Dan Slott’s Peter Parker, however, embraces the bizarre and as a result becomes, for all intents and purposes, politically aligned with corporate saboteur Ghost.

ASM12 Parker Harry

Only moments before Ghost attacks his fundraiser, Parker equates buying cheap suits with doing business “right.” Instead of being a CEO who finds a proper balance between thriving in a cutthroat industry and giving back to local communities, he possesses a mentality that is one step removed from the villain calling him a “fat cat” member of “the one percent.”

In short, Peter Parker can be a CEO without becoming self-loathing about it. I suggest Dan Slott read up on Tony Robbins if he wants a good blueprint for how to write about business and finance.

ASM12 Ghost

Finally, one cannot talk about ASM #12 without covering the return of MJ.

ASM12 Stark MJ

“I can face Doctor Doom or the Juggernaut. Easy,” says Peter Parker. “But knowing you’re right there, MJ … and with Tony Stark? Everything’s wrong. It shouldn’t be like this,” (emphasis added).

Indeed, long-time fans of ASM would concur that MJ locking arms with Tony Stark at a party is wrong. Likewise, seeing Stark cradle her head while asking if she is okay during an attack feels gross. Dan’s Slott’s decision is to have Peter react to the meeting by a.) first freezing up at the podium, and then b.) calling Pepper Potts and offering her a job at Parker Industries. She rejects the offer without hesitation.

Question: Is that really how Peter would react?

Answer: He would obviously be upset at seeing MJ with another man, but it seems sad and unacceptable to have him respond with a kind of impotence and immaturity that would signal she is better off with Stark.

One shudders to think of the indignities to come as Marvel writers explore the professional (as of now) relationship between MJ and Tony.